Diversity | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3
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I’m a proponent of spreading strategic thinking broadly in a company and not readily handing off strategy development to outside parties exclusively. Yet I’ve been a part of many examples where an outside perspective helped move strategic planning  development ahead much more quickly.

3 Real Life Strategic Planning Successes

Here are several examples you may be facing related to strategic planning where it’s good to get outside expertise:

Turning Talk Into Strategic Planning Progress

A small subsidiary’s three-person management team was told to get a strategic plan in place to show corporate management the company’s direction. They had no strategic planning process and only ten business days to deliver a comprehensive strategic plan. We brought in the Brainzooming process to develop an innovative strategic plan in one day. The output couldn’t be simply a bunch of ideas nor could it be only a rote plan with little strategic insight.

Structuring a day-long session using question-based exercises allowed the team to answer questions about the business, participate in exercises to stretch strategic perspectives on competition and opportunities, and come back the next morning to make people and timing decisions on a tight plan to share with the operating president.

As non-planners, they wouldn’t have been able to put together a coherent strategic planning document in ten days, but they did understand their business and the general direction they needed to head. We combined their deep knowledge with strategic thinking exercises and facilitation allowing us to challenge and create a strategic plan from their answers. We delivered the best of both worlds – a structured plan reflecting their intent for the business with sound strategic logic and more innovation than they’d have ever brought to it alone. This experience demonstrated the clear benefit of the emerging Brainzooming process.
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Stimulating a Management Team that Knows It All

We rolled into town to help a really experienced senior management team tackle annual strategic planning. Because of their tenure and smarts, they knew the company inside- out. This knowledge rendered them ill-suited to solving a long-term growth challenge: as every idea was uttered, they “knew” why it wouldn’t work for the brand.

During the course of a day-long planning session, I created a new exercise on the fly based on a brand in a very different industry sharing the same fundamental characteristics of our client. I asked the group to suggest how this other company could address the same challenge they were facing. All of a sudden ideas started flowing non-stop. We were able to take the concepts and strategically apply them to their business.

Left on its own to think strategically, the management team would never have reached an alternative look at its business. An outside perspective, unburdened by excessive detail was critical to identifying an analogous situation, providing an entree for innovative strategic thinking and implementation.

Doing the Thinking for a Distracted Management Team

We had a pre-scheduled planning follow-up with a management team who, since our initial session, had been charged with exploring a major brand contraction. Unable to convince them their new assignment should be the focus for our session, we instead spent time addressing the status quo scenario. Unfortunately, the status quo wasn’t likely or compelling enough to command much of their attention and strategic creativity.

Frustrated by the lack of intensity while addressing the status quo, we wrapped the effort early. We told them we’d work on the status quo scenario, delivering 200 prioritized, fleshed out ideas and concepts within 3 days. Using several creativity techniques during the flight home, we generated really strong creative concepts for the status quo or, with some modification, for the alternative scenario also.

This was a great example of the importance of a balanced group in doing the best strategic thinking. The client’s management team had business experience and functional knowledge, but was sapped of any creative energy it ever had. Bringing in outside talent for a creative spark was needed to turn lackluster thinking into vibrant, implementable ideas.  – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re struggling to lead a viable strategic planning effort, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our strategic thinking, innovation, and implementation tools on to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around planning and implementation challenges.


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I participated in the Frost & Sullivan Marketing World 2009 event November 2 in Chicago, leading a round table on getting around innovation roadblocks. The next several days will highlight some of the many intriguing ideas shared during the day from great marketing practitioners.

Yesterday’s Creative Quickie mentioned the title “Chief Creatologist” which belongs to Joe Batista at HP, who spoke on “Creating New Market Revenues in a Down Economy.” I met Joe at a 2007 Frost & Sullivan event, and his case study-driven presentations at both events were tremendously thought provoking considering HP targets $3 billion in new growth quarterly from the approaches Joe shared.

He looks for business growth through discovering and exploring new areas to respond to clients’ needs. His efforts center on going beyond a closed innovation model and exploring the company’s research in new ways and looking beyond its boundaries for new opportunities:

  • Joe highlighted techniques to help identify new growth sources, including thinking broadly about the available assets a company has, generalizing what the assets (especially technology) can do, and connecting organizationally-dispersed assets inside a company. Comment – These all tie to fundamental lateral thinking principles, stressing the real-life importance of being able to apply abstract thinking skills in identifying opportunities that would otherwise be missed.
  • Look for pockets of knowledge and expertise inside your business and explore how they can be converted into new revenue streams. Comment – A great way to do this is to identify what BENEFITS your knowledge can provide and then think through what other parties are seeking these or related benefits.
  • One more potential growth source? Growth arises from examining currencies you have available inside your company (i.e., what flows through your value system) and by making the boundaries of your company porous so ideas from outside can flow through it. Comment – Joe’s remarks continually underscored the importance of being able to step away from detail and “get” the bigger, potentially underlying picture, whether it’s inside or outside your company.


There’s a lot behind these summarized comments. I look forward to trying to connect with Joe further and better understand the innovative approach he’s bringing to business growth! – Mike Brown

BTW -This is the second anniversary of the blog’s first post. No big deal in the posts this week, but it seemed like at least worth a mention. Look for the Brainzooming redesign and move to a WordPress format in the very near future!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I’ve extolled the benefits of surrounding yourself with both left brain and right brain people to complement what you lack in expertise and perspective. It’s incredible to tap innovative people across the entire spectrum of points of view on strategic situations you’re facing.

Last Friday at my going away party, another upside of a network of great diverse thinkers surfaced: it makes for a better party!

Shortly after the announced start time, someone remarked about the “surprising” number of attendees from finance and accounting backgrounds. Looking around, nearly the entire crowd would be considered naturally left brained thinkers (i.e., quantitative, precise, punctual).

A little while later, more of the right brain people (i.e., intuitive, holistic, random) began to arrive. By the time the event was well underway, it became a whole brain party, spawning interesting combinations of diverse people interacting with one another throughout the evening.

And since some of my creative friends drove the party planning, there were 3 innovation exercises along with post-its and Sharpies for guests to ideate on what Brainzooming could become!

Because of the whole brain network of great people in attendance, we had a crowd early on, lively interactions and ideas throughout, enough people staying late to extend the party, and a final small group of both left and right brainers having a passionate (and by “passionate,” I mean “interesting but slightly uncomfortable”) conversation about my future prospects. Truly, the type of whole brain night I love! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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There are so many situations in everyday life that can be sources of current and future creative inspiration, especially when you have a creative block.

How do you become better at actually capitalizing on their inspirational creative value?

One way is to get an easy-to-use video camera and start capturing situations which provide creative inspiration.

Having a video camera with me nearly all the time this year has not only allowed capturing blatantly creative images, but has also refined my eye for spotting hidden creative moments in more mundane situations.

Figure out which type of video camera works best for you – it could be a Flip, a Kodak (that’s for former BMA board president Jeff Hayzlett!), or your PDA. Find the video camera that allows you to video at a moment’s notice and build an inspiration reserve for when you hit a creative block. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Want to meet cool new people? Next time you’re at a public presentation, “live tweet” it. Live tweeting implies using Twitter to report:

  • What the speaker is communicating
  • Your own commentary
  • What others are tweeting about it (through retweets)

I live tweeted the Integrated Marketing Summit last week in Kansas City to further experiment with the process. Based on my tweets from a direct database marketing session, Doug Haslam switched breakouts and joined the session. This created the opportunity to chat, and after attending his session on PR and social media, later talk at the networking reception.

I wouldn’t have necessarily gone up and talked with someone new (ah, the curse of an introvert), but live tweeting opened the door to connect and meet a new, really smart person at the forefront of social media.

Beyond the in-person opportunity, live tweeting often opens the opportunity to attract and follow new people in your Twitter network as well.

Live tweeting – a whole new way for introverts to become social animals. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I presented on “Getting Ready for This” at the Fort Hays State University Business and Leadership Symposium. The talk focused on six strategic success skills vital  in today’s workplace amid a dramatically changing business world. The premise is it’s fundamental to possess strategic success skills in co-creating, contorting, and abandoning ideas and strategies based on what’s relevant at any time. It’s not so much “what” you know, as “how” to continually deconstruct and reassemble your  knowledge in dramatically new and relevant ways throughout your career.

It starts with several amazing factoids from the video “Do You Know 3.0?” recounting dramatic demographic, technology, and information-based changes worldwide. It’s been viewed millions of times, and in the event you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch it.

As a brief overview and reference for the presentation, here are the six strategic success skills to more concertedly embrace:

1. Knowing Answers Is Good – Knowing How to Find Answers Is Vital

Since facts change and information deteriorates, it’s vital to be able to know how to seek and vet potential answers since no one can be expected to have a full command of all available knowledge.

2. Balanced Thinking Allows You to Be More Strategic

USA Today featured an article in July on retraining a left brained orientation to a right brained one in order to cope with a changing job environment. We talk plenty about the importance of knowing your thinking orientation, surrounding yourself with a complementary team, and the strategic impact of being able to work with contradictory points of view.

3. Possibilities and Emotion are Important in Business

From someone whose more natural orientation centers on facts and logic, this has been the most challenging of the 6 areas to retrain my own view. The best place to go on this topic is Benjamin Zander, who has been mentioned frequently here. As a homework assignment for attendees at the FHSU presentation, I asked them to watch these two Zander videos and get a genuine sense of the importance of emotion and possibilities thinking:

4. You Have to Be Able to Communicate in Multiple Ways

Communication is in the top 10 topics addressed on Brainzooming so far because it’s so critical to successful creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking. Students need to be pushed to go beyond the typical team presentation that summarizes a semester-long project. They need to be adept at using formats of varying lengths (simple recommendations, elevator speeches, tweets, etc.) and mediums (songs, video, acting, etc.).

5. Leadership Starts Day One on the Job

Leadership is about service, not titles. That means day one is the time for new graduates to start leading on the job. Taking on a strategic leadership role can be simple. You just have to be willing to do something about it!

6. People All Around You Are Making Decisions Based on Personal Branding

Personal branding isn’t a meaningless concept authors dreamed up to sell more books. It’s truly the driver behind why anyone gets hired, advances, and has intriguing opportunities develop. Step one is understanding your talents and exploiting them. Here are two great books to read on how to further develop and sustain a personal brand:

I look forward to comments from those in attendance (and non-attendees as well) with thoughts on the topic since it applies to all of us as dizzying changes occur around us. Stay close to the Brainzooming blog for more on change and dealing with it in the near future!  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can get your Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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We’re all likely involved in relationships tied to coaching, mentoring, or just plain supporting one another. They’re tremendously helpful in personal and business growth, yet at times, these relationships can become stale.

What can you do if you find yourself in such a relationship? Here are a few options to spice things up:

  • Add a Person: I’ve been working out for more than three years with the same trainer. The results have been great, yet at times, we tend to fall into the same routines. When my niece was visiting last month, she went along as a guest trainee. The spirit of competition improved my effort and also created some new enthusiasm from my trainer.
  • Reverse Roles: I’ve got a great career coach who can amazingly have one meeting with me that creates about nine month’s worth of activity and progress. Recently we got together for lunch and turned the tables: I was able to provide some coaching for her on new possibilities she’s considering. It was of benefit to her, and it was really exciting for me to give something back to someone who has done so much to help me!
  • Schedule a Reunion: Early in my career, a group of us working as analysts for a challenging boss formed a tremendous bond as we tried to survive and figure out what we’d do with our careers. We don’t get together often anymore, but we met for a happy hour recently to renew our friendship and share perspectives on what each of us is doing now.
  • Take a break: If you find a once thriving coaching relationship has stalled, consider seeing other people. The break could be temporary or permanent, but may be just the thing to open up time to find other relationships that work better for both of you right now.

Give one or more of these a try so you can keep moving forward with renewed enthusiasm! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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